Muslims
Muslims

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Ghana’s National Imam is a man whom I have great respect for. Indeed, you don’t have to be a Muslim to appreciate the positive impact which Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu has exerted on not only our Muslim community but the nation at large. And he does it with such inimitable flair that not quite long ago, a concerned Ghanaian Muslim wrote and published an article in which the author despondently wondered what would happen to the country’s Muslim community once Sheikh Sharubutu naturally exited the scene.

I don’t quite recall much else vis-a-vis the contents of the aforesaid plaintive writer, but I suppose that the thrust of his argument regarded the imperative need for a stable mechanism of succession to be instituted for the office of the National Imam. For me personally, though, Sheikh Sharubutu endeared himself across all walks and levels and sections of Ghana’s mega-national community by the noble and witty manner in which he approached and tackled the Hohoe Disturbances, in which the natives of that well-known Volta regional township stampeded most of the members of its minority Muslim community out of town.

The latter event, for those of our readers who may not readily recall, followed the razing down of the Hohoe chief’s palace by fire alleged to have been deliberately set by some angry Muslim youths, in rabid reaction to the alleged desecration of the mortal remains of one of their kin by unceremonious exhumation. The remote cause of the incident, however, appears to have been connected with perceived neglect or maltreatment of an indisposed Muslim youth at the Hohoe Government Hospital that later, reportedly, led to the preventable death of the patient. It might, of course, have equally been connected with perceived disdain on the part of Hohoe indigenes for the largely recent-immigrant Muslim community residents.

But for the timely intervention of Sheikh Sharubutu, the entire nation may well have been engulfed in some form of civil strife the likes of which had not been witnessed and/or experienced in the half-century-plus existence of postcolonial Ghana. And so when the National Chief Imam says that there is no tension between Ghanaian Muslims and Christians, he must know what he is talking about (See “No Tension Between Muslims, Christians – Chief Imam” Ghana News Agency / Ghanaweb.com 3/7/15).

What Sheikh Sharubutu needs to do now for those of us who harbor considerable doubts of our own, is to explain precisely why those Muslim high school students embarked on a reportedly massive protest demonstration in the twin Western regional capital cities of Sekondi-Takoradi recently. From the several scattered reports that I read about the incident, the drift that I came away with was that these students felt harassed by non-Muslim school authorities who appeared to be grossly disrespectful of their religious practices and observances. Then also, amidst all this contretemps, we also learned that some young Muslim women had embarked on a protest demonstration because some school authorities had prevented them from either registering for an examination or sitting for one until they had acquiesced to having their Hijabs or religious veils removed.

The rationale here appears to have bordered on photographic identification. But, of course, it was equally understandable that these young Muslim women should feel implaccably affronted. As of this writing, there was a ruling on this religious and cultural conflict pending before the Supreme Court of Ghana. Whatever decision gets handed down by the Court would have a remarkable impact on relations between the Ghanaian Muslim and Christian communities. If Sheikh Sharubutu sincerely believes that no tensions of a precarious nature exist between Ghanaian Muslims and their Christian brothers and sisters, then, of course, it is all well and good.

The preceding notwithstanding, the real interpretation here may well be that the recognized leaders of these two communities are working strenuously to ensure that the much remarked peaceful relations that have characterized these two fraternal and sororal communities for generations will continue to strongly hold.

Source: By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
E-mail: [email protected]

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